Accounting & Auditing | Legislative & Regulatory

New standard proposed for ERISA plan audits

The AICPA has released an exposure draft of a proposed new standard for reporting on audits of employee benefit plans subject to the  Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) of 1974.

The proposal, entitled “Proposed Statement on Auditing Standards (SAS), Forming an Opinion and Reporting on Financial Statements of Employee Benefit Plans Subject to ERISA,” addresses:

  • the auditor’s responsibilities to form an opinion and report on the financial statements of ERISA plan financial statements, and
  • the form and content of such reporting, including reporting on specific plan provisions relating to the ERISA plan financial statements and reporting when management imposes a limitation on the scope of the audit in accordance with ERISA section 103(a)(3)(C).

Responsive to DOL critique

As noted in by Accounting Today, the AICPA’s proposal is responsive to critiques of employee benefit plan audits which were raised by the Department of Labor in 2015.

“The Department of Labor issued a report in 2015 criticizing the quality of employee benefit plan audits by CPAs, and the AICPA has pledged to fix the problem (see AICPA Pushes for Auditing and Assurance Changes),” Accounting Today reports. “The Labor Department’s Employee Benefits Security Administration found serious deficiencies in 39 percent of the audits of employee benefit plans that it examined. In response, the AICPA developed a six-point plan to improve audits, and last year, the AICPA launched a certification program to better train CPAs on auditing employee benefit plans as part of its Enhancing Audit Quality initiative.”

See also our earlier posts:

Effective date; comment deadline

The effective date of the new standard would be for audits of financial statements for periods ending on or after Dec. 15, 2018.

The AICPA is seeking comment on the proposal; the comment deadline is Aug. 21.

Read more in the AICPA’s proposal.

Also on the topic of employee benefit plan accounting and auditing, see our earlier post: Employee benefit plan master trust reporting addressed in new FASB standard.

2017 Employee Benefit Plan ConferenceLearn more about the AICPA’s proposal on ERISA-plan audits, and more employee benefit plan management and audit topics, at the MACPA’s 2017 Employee Benefit Plan Conference, available in-person or via simulcast, on May 15.

Speakers will include Michael Auerbach, acting chief accountant with the Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA), and leading experts from law firms and audit firms.


Edith Orenstein